NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and other NYU locations
566 La Guardia Pl. between Third & Fourth Sts.
October 17-28, free with advance RSVP
This past May, Karl Marx would have turned two hundred years old. The NYU Skirball Center is celebrating his bicentennial with twelve days of special free programming honoring the man who wrote, “The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Audiences can also determine if they want to contribute to the performances based on supply and demand and their own consciousness; the events are all free with advance RSVP but donations are welcome. The “Karl Marx Festival: On Your Marx” begins October 17 at 7:30 with London-based Bulgarian performance artist Ivo Dimchev’s one-hour show, P Project, in which people from the audience will get paid by agreeing to do spur-of-the-moment things involving words that begin with the letter “P.” For example, Dimchev will present them with tasks that might involve such words as Piano, Pray, Pussy, Poetry, Poppers, etc. On October 18 at 6:00, NYU professors Erin Gray, Arun Kundnani, Michael Ralph, and Nikhil Singh will discuss “Racial Capitalism” at the Tamiment Library. On October 19 at 9:30, DJs AndrewAndrew will spin Marxist discs along with readings by special guests from Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.
On October 19 and 20 at 7:30, Brooklyn-based Uruguayan dancer and choreographer luciana achugar will present the world premiere of Brujx, which explores ideas of labor. On October 22 at 6:30, Slavoj Žižek will deliver the Skirball Talks lecture “The Fate of the Commons: A Trotskyite View.” On October 23 at 5:30, NYU professors Lisa Daily, Dean Saranillio, and Jerome Whitington will discuss “Futurity & Consumption” at the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis. On October 24 at 4:00, author Sarah Rose will talk about her 2017 book, No Right to Be Idle at the eighth floor commons at 239 Greene St. On October 25 at 5:30, luciana achugar, Julie Tolentino, and Amin Husain will join for the conversation “Labor, Aesthetics, Identity” at the Department of Performance Studies. On October 26 at 7:30, Malik Gaines, Miguel Gutierrez, Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Ryan McNamara, Seung-Min Lee, and Alison Kizu-Blair will stage “Courtesy the Artists: Popular Revolt,” a live-sourced multimedia work directed by Alexandro Segade and Amy Ruhl. The festival concludes October 28 at 5:00 with Ethan Philbrick’s Choral Marx, a singing adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party, performed by Benjamin Bath, Gelsey Bell, Sarah Chihaya, Hai-ting Chinn, Tomás Cruz, Amirtha Kidambi, Brian McQueen, Gizelxanath Rodriguez, and Ryan Tracy.
At the end of Australian company Lucy Guerin Inc’s Split, which continues through October 13 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, the two performers take their well-deserved bows. While Melanie Lane is in the blue dress she wore during the fifty-minute duet, Lilian Steiner is still naked, as she has been since the start. It’s an unusually fascinating moment; when Lane and Steiner first took the stage, the nudity was as bold as it was curious. It feels far more natural as the show goes on, quickly becoming barely noticeable as the two women interact. It’s eventually not an issue at all. But it’s as if Guerin (Corridor, Untrained) is making yet one more point as Steiner now stands before the audience, still in the buff, then runs offstage and comes back covered to more applause. It’s just a human, female body — a vastly talented one at that — and no one else is going to control it.
Split is a mesmerizing piece that follows two women as time and space close in on them. In the first section, Lane and Steiner are in complete synchronicity, moving to the exact same choreography within a large white rectangle. Their arms and hands swirl, they writhe on the floor, the only differences being Lane’s dress and her long, flowing tresses, which is countered by Steiner’s tightly pulled-back hair. It’s as if they’re two parts of the same woman, the public and the private, each unaware of the other’s existence. They’re not mirror images; instead, it’s like Steiner is an X-ray version of Lane, revealing what the body is doing inside the clothing, every bone and muscle celebrating form and movement. After twenty minutes, they cut the black stage in half with a vertical strip of white tape and each stays within that smaller box for the next ten minutes, but now facing each other, their movements consisting of sharp angles, their relationship taking on a fierce, primal quality that borders on jealousy. Their floor space is halved again after five minutes, then two and a half, and so on until they have mere seconds in a tiny area in which they are unable to stand side-by-side. Each segment is lit differently by Paul Lim, accompanied by UK composer Scanner’s (Robin Rimbaud) ever-present percussive electronic score. It’s an enchanting, compelling work whose exploration of the female form falls somewhere between scientific and sensual (and even cannibalistic at one point). Split — the name refers to the way the dancers keep cutting the floor in half as well as how they are like one woman split in two — flows so seamlessly that the nudity fades into the background about halfway through, only to reappear at the curtain call, as Guerin investigates the inner and outer beauty of the human body.
Adelaide-born, Melbourne-based choreographer Lucy Guerin returns to the Baryshnikov Arts Center for the first time since 2009 — she was last in the city in 2012 with Untrained at BAM — with the US premiere of Split. The fifty-minute piece features two dancers, Melanie Lane and Lilian Steiner, the former clothed (in a costume designed by Harriet Oxley), the latter not. It’s an intimate, bold work on a square staging area that takes aim at the intense pressure we all feel in today’s furious, nonstop world as space and time close in. Split is set to a gently building electronic score by UK composer Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, who has written and performed original music for art installations, a musical comedy, a ballet, and more, collaborating with Bryan Ferry, Wayne MacGregor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, and others. Steiner, a Melbourne-based choreographer and dancer, received a 2017 Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer in a Ballet, Dance, or Physical Theatre Production for Split; that same year, Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek won the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in a Ballet, Dance, or Physical Theatre Production for Attraction. Split also garnered several 2018 Green Room Awards, including Best Ensemble (Duo or Trio), Choreography, and Concept and Realisation. The lighting designer is Paul Lim, with sound design by Robin Fox. Guerin, whose previous works include Conversation Piece, Weather, Structure and Sadness, and Tomorrow, recently told the Australian edition of Dance Information about Split, “The process started from various movement ideas, but it went everywhere, as many of my works do. So, there were times when we were working in big cellophane bags, and learning cartoon movement off YouTube. . . . It ended up being quite a dark piece with a real intensity about it. It’s really an abstract work, but it seems to bring out quite strong images for people, and I think that’s partly because of the clarity of the structure.” Split runs at BAC October 11-13, with tickets only $25 but going fast.
New York City native Juliana F. May creates complex, challenging works that take on heavy social issues while exploring the boundaries of dance. Referring to such pieces as Gutter Gate, Adult Documentary, and Commentary=not thing, she states on her website, “I have become increasingly interested in the relationship between feeling, form, and, most recently, in the Aristotelian notion of Necessity. . . . This notion of necessity came to the forefront of the work as I began to wonder how abstraction could be necessary. . . . I manipulate text, song, dialogue and vocalization in an effort to expose the chaotic, conflictual and conversely innocent mode of communication between people.” From October 9 to 20 at Abrons Arts Center, May and her company, MAYDANCE, will present the world premiere of the evening-length piece Folk Incest, a work for five women performers that explores form, sexual trauma, the Holocaust, and the fetishization of young girls; among its pop-culture inspirations are the music of Joan Baez along with John Waters’s Cry Baby, with ample doses of humor added to the seriousness. May wrote, directed, and choreographed the work, which will be performed by Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, Lucy Kaminsky, Molly Poerstel, and Rebecca Wender, with music by Tatyana Tenanbaum, lighting by Madeline Best, and costumes by Mariana Valencia. Several nights are already sold out, so get your tickets now to see the latest from one of the city’s most fascinating movement artists.
Belgian choreographer Anne de Keersmaeker has been making deeply thoughtful, intellectually exciting, stunningly beautiful work — “the art of dance as an act of writing movements in space and time,” as it says in the mission statement of her company — for nearly four decades. On October 1, just a few weeks after its September 12 world premiere in Berlin, her eagerly anticipated adaptation of The Six Brandenburg Concertos opens at the Park Avenue Armory, home to several great explorations of Bach, from the 2014 St. Matthew Passion by Peter Sellars, with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, to the 2015 Goldberg by pianist Igor Levit and visual artist Marina Abramovic. De Keersmaeker’s piece is choreographed for sixteen members of all generations in her Rosas company, performed to all six concertos played live by noted baroque orchestra B’Rock, conducted by Amandine Beyer, who has worked with De Keekrmaeker previously. With costumes by An D’Huys and set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, Ivo van Hove’s partner and regular collaborator, the two-hour piece promises to be a fascinating look at the interplay of pattern in music and movement, interpreted by masters.
De Keersmaeker has never shied from setting her works to music that is both challenging and fiercely beloved; in 1980, her well-known Violin Phase was performed to the music of Steve Reich, and just a year ago in September, twi-ny was riveted by her work with Salva Sanchez on A Love Supreme at New York Live Arts, performed to John Coltrane’s classic album. “Like no other, Bach’s music carries within itself movement and dance, managing to combine the greatest abstraction with a concrete, physical, and, subsequently, even transcendental dimension,” De Keersmaeker has said. In a recent interview with Jan Vandenhouwe, artistic director of Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen Royal Ballet Flanders, De Keersmaeker noted, “Just like Bach in composing, I have to impose rules on myself which over time I can break. . . . Measure by measure we try to compensate Bach’s musical counterpoint with a choreographic counterpoint. It is certainly an enormous challenge to match the logic of the dance vocabulary with that of the music.” It’s a challenge that will be met in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall during this very special week of performances, by De Keersmaeker and her co-creators and dancers, Boštjan Antončič, Carlos Garbin, Frank Gizycki, Marie Goudot, Robin Haghi, Cynthia Loemij, Mark Lorimer, Michaël Pomero, Jason Respilieux, Igor Shyshko, Luka Švajda, Jakub Truszkowski, Thomas Vantuycom, Samantha van Wissen, Sandy Williams, and Sue Yeon Youn. De Keersmaeker and Beyer will take part in an artist talk with Performa founding director and chief curator RoseLee Goldberg on October 4 at 6:00; the event is sold out, but it will be streamed live on Facebook here.
“It’s Fred and Fred and Ginger and Ginger,” dance judge Benjamin Soencksen says, laughing, near the beginning of Hot to Trot, Gail Freedman’s intimate portrait of same-sex competitive ballroom dancing. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2017 NewFest LGBT Film Festival, the documentary follows several partners, some of whom are couples in life as well as on the dance floor, as they prepare and compete in the 2012 April Follies in Oakland and the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland. As they rehearse their routines and select their costumes, they celebrate the freedom the competitions give them. “There is something about this community, and I know it’s related to the fact that we’re a target group and that community is so much more important because of that,” same-sex dance organizer Barbara Zoloth explains. Among the featured pairs are Emily Coles and Kieren Jameson, Ernesto Palma and Robbie Tristan, Palma and Nikolai Shpakov, and Coles and Katerina Blinova, along with Kalin Mitov, Jose Comoda, Zoe Balfour, Citabria Phillips, and Chris Phan. They discuss serious health issues, drug addiction, coming-out stories, relationship with parents, and more, sharing how broken they’ve been and how same-sex dancing has restored their self-esteem and put them on a positive track, especially since, as one team says, “There is no guy’s part, and there’s no girl’s part,” no leaders or followers; everyone is equal. They also have lots of fun. “Are we two divas? Yes!” Tristan declares. Hot to Trot opens August 24 at the Quad, with Freedman participating in Q&As with editor Dina Potocki, Shpakov, and Palma at the 7:05 screenings on Friday and Saturday night.
The free summer arts & culture season is under way, with dance, theater, music, art, film, and other special outdoor programs all across the city. Every week we will be recommending a handful of events. Keep watching twi-ny for more detailed highlights as well.
Monday, August 20
Movies on the Waterfront: Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018), Astoria Park Lawn, 8:30
Tuesday, August 21
Movies Under the Stars: Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1952), Poe Park, Bronx, 8:30
Wednesday, August 22
SummerStage: Mr. Gaga (Tomer Heymann, 2017), preceded by a performance by Gallim Dance, with a preshow Gaga/people class taught by Omri Drumlevich (advance RSVP required), Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, 8:00
Friday, August 24
Shakespeare: Macbeth, Fridays and Saturdays through September 8, no tarps allowed, Bryant Park Picnics, Bryant Park, 7:00
Saturday, August 25
Summer Concert Series: Joan Caddell & the Midnight Choir, Karlus Trapp, with wine and beer tastings and lawn games, chairs and blankets encouraged, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Staten Island, 7:00
Sunday, August 26
Staten Island Philharmonic in High Rock Park: Woodwinds Ensemble, High Rock Gate, Staten Island, 3:00